Students, community members and activists will take to the streets nationwide March 24 for March for Our Lives, a gun control protest created by the teen survivors of the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, FL. The march has spread to the San Luis Obispo community under the direction of Women’s March SLO and Together We Will SLO. The march will start at 2 p.m., for updates on the starting location, participants are encouraged to follow the group’s Facebook and Instagram pages.
San Luis Obispo community members will stand in solidarity and support of the 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Women’s March SLO Lead Dawn Addis said organizers also want to send a message to government officials about gun violence and solutions through legislation.
“We are coming together in numbers too large to ignore,” Addis said. “It is going to send a clear message to Congress. When youth decide to get organized and get active, there is no ignoring them.”
Local organizations such as SLO County Progressives, SLO Mothers For Peace, Unity of SLO, Village Preschool, Habitat Studio Architecture and Bend The Arc SLO are all in support of the event, as well as numerous community members. Approximately 2,000 people have said they are interested or are going to the event on Facebook.
“I want to support these young students who saw things, heard things, and felt things they never should have had to,” community member Susie Schleppenbach said in a Facebook comment on the event page. “These voices can make a difference. I want these voices to make a difference, help us drown out the worn out words from years gone by and stop the carnage.”
California gun laws include the right to own, but not buy a rifle, regulations on how and where you can purchase ammunition and a ban on the right to open-carry long-guns in particular areas of a town. Cal Poly is in a gun-free zone due to state legislation, and is in full compliance with the California penal code 626.9.
However, the campus fosters a gun community through the Cal Poly Marksmanship Club. The club is in full support of the march.
A non-political club, the sport shooting enthusiasts focus on safety and responsibility in gun usage.
“I think it is a fantastic idea, I am all for people going out and promoting what they are passionate about,” Marksmanship Club Vice President Jordan Li said.
Cal Poly’s suggestions in the event an active shooter is on campus is the nationwide protocol of “RUN, HIDE, FIGHT.” This plan details how people on campus should behave in this situation. The first option is to run away from the situation if possible. If this is not possible or too dangerous, hiding in a secure place is the next best option. Fighting against the shooter with whatever is immediately available is a last resort.
The University Police Department (UPD) holds trainings with the San Luis Obispo Police Department and consistently works with other departments and groups on campus to increase awareness of the issues around gun violence, according to university spokesperson Matt Lazier.
“These approaches have been in place for several years on campus. However, as events continue to occur around the country, UPD continues to try to increase its outreach efforts to campus to raise awareness of the issue,” Lazier said.
The debate around gun violence and gun control will continue to take place, especially in the coming weeks following the shooting in Florida. Open and honest conversation will hopefully help in finding a solution that will work.
“It is important to have a healthy conversation about the gun debate,” Li said.
For now, the San Luis Obispo community will continue to work towards making their voices heard.
“This march is less about the adults and its more about the young people,” Addis said. “By coming out and filling the streets it is one way to voice the power that you have. We want to see you out there in numbers too large to ignore so that you never have to be afraid to go to school at your university.”
Correction: A previous version of this article said the march would take place Saturday, Feb. 24. It has been changed to the correct date.